The Fiesta Bowl yesterday made a tentative pairing, Louisville against the Southeastern Conference runner-up, as the controversy over the failure of Arizona voters to approve a statewide Martin Luther King Jr. holiday last week continued for the state's two bowl games.
Meanwhile, the NAACP criticized the University of California at Berkeley for tentatively accepting a bid to play Wyoming in the Copper Bowl Dec. 31 in Tucson.
"We do not look kindly on the action . . . " James Williams, head of public relations at the NAACP in Washington, told the Associated Press. "We just don't understand how a school with the University of California's tradition could have made this decision. The university has always been a campus that has fostered humanitarian ideals."
Opinions differed on campus, according to the AP; the student newspaper, the Daily Californian, with reservations, endorsed Cal's appearance in the Copper Bowl, saying the players' unanimous approval swayed its editorial board.
The Fiesta Bowl also announced it would have a halftime show honoring the slain civil rights leader and would contribute $100,000 each to the schools to create a Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship fund for minority students and would create a local scholarship fund in King's name. The halftime show makes "a clear and strong statement about the importance of this issue," said Larry Gunning, the Fiesta Bowl president.
Louisville (9-1-1) withdrew its informal acceptance of a bid to the All-American Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., to accept tentatively the Fiesta's offer. That means the Cardinals will reap $1.9 million more in bowl payoff as well as the first national exposure for its team in six seasons under Coach Howard Schnellenberger, who coached Miami to the first of its three national championships in the '80s.
School officials concluded that the university could accomplish more for the cause of civil rights by participating. As senior wide receiver Anthony Cummings of Detroit said, after the team broke out cheering and jumping when informed of the Fiesta bid at 7 a.m. Sunday: "Dr. King had a dream. I have one too. This is my dream. He was the one who fought so we could play football."
Southern Mississippi replaced Louisville in the All-American game Dec. 28.
In addition to getting $100,000 for minority scholarships and another $100,000 for the general scholarship fund from the Fiesta Bowl, Louisville officials announced they would use at least $100,000 of the Fiesta's $2.5 million payout to match the bowl's minority scholarship commitment.
Schnellenberger, university president Donald Swain and Woodford Porter, the chairman of the school's board of trustees (who is black), talked at length Sunday before agreeing to accept the bid. "If Porter had said, 'No,' we wouldn't be going," said Ron Steiner, Schnellenberger's administrative aide.